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How binge drinking leads to impaired young drivers

Binge drinking is very popular with teenagers, especially those who are experiencing life on a college campus, but alcohol doesn't mix well with the responsibility of driving a car. When teens who have been binge drinking get behind the wheel, they are a danger to themselves and everyone else on the road.

Understanding what it means

Binge drinking, as commonly seen in college students, is generally defined as a minimum of five consecutive drinks for a male and four consecutive drinks for a female. The Surgeon General reports that though teens who drink alcohol indulge less frequently than adults, they tend to drink more heavily. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism National Advisory Council, a binge is defined as any bout of drinking that raises the blood alcohol concentration to 0.08 or more. In terms of operating a vehicle, the legal BAC limit is 0.08.

Adverse health effects

Magnetic resonance imaging of the teen brain reveals that this organ is not fully developed until a person reaches the mid-twenties. Therefore, alcohol consumption may adversely affect a brain that is still in the process of developing. Other health consequences include high blood pressure, liver disease and neurological damage that may result in memory lapses and difficulty with concentration. Also, while it is true that most young binge drinkers do not become addicted to alcohol, they may keep on drinking and become alcohol dependent later in life. The greatest danger to the underage binge drinker, however, is alcohol poisoning, which can cause seizures and even death.

Posing a danger to other drivers

A teen driver who is impaired due to binge drinking presents significant danger to other motorists. Reaction time is affected for any person with alcohol in the bloodstream. If an emergency situation arises, the driver may not be capable of good judgment, and will likely be encumbered by slow reflexes. Nevertheless, teenagers who have been drinking heavily may believe that they are perfectly able to drive. Those who are driving under the influence of alcohol might be spotted weaving, braking erratically, stopping abruptly, making wide turns or driving badly in other respects.

When legal help is needed

If a teenager is pulled over due to driving under the influence, it could be a blessing in disguise in terms of bringing a troubling problem to light. After all, a DUI charge is much better than causing an accident - car crashes are reported to be the leading cause of death for teenagers. Still, Minnesota law is strict for underage drinkers. If you or a family member is involved in such a situation, it may be time to contact an attorney who can provide guidance, support and experienced representation.

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